The Forever Headphones are No More!

On December 7th, 2011 I bought a pair of pink V-MODA Vibe headphones on Amazon for $24. I had purchased several of these before because they short out after 2 or 3 months. Even though they only last a short time I kept buying them because they have a great sound for the price. Actually the order was for 2 pair, a pair of gunmetal phones for me and the pink ones for Janet. The gunmetal set was $38.

Fast forward 2 months later, my phones short out as usual so I borrow Janet’s pair. She hardly used them and mine were in use all the time when I work, at the gym, even overnight I wear them so I can use the sleep machine app and listen to old time radio to help me sleep. I never gave them back.

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This morning, the forever headphones (which is what I named them after they just kept going) finally shorted out in one ear. It was the end of an era. By some fluke, some miracle of modern manufacturing, I had been able to use a product that is surely created to fail in a short period of time, for almost 5 years.

Just looked on Amazon and the few remaining sets of this model are now $39. I’m reluctant to buy them because the odds are so against the next pair being anything like the last pair. They will never surpass the forever headphones. A moment of silence please.

The new website

Sometimes you just get stuck. For whatever reasons we have a hard time doing things we know need to get done. That was the case when it came to updating my website. My site was built back in 06 and looked like it was even older. The look was cluttered and was hard to navigate. I knew it needed updating but the task seemed insurmountable so it just kept getting kicked down the road.

About a year ago Janet & I bought RapidWeaver a WYSIWYG software that’s pretty affordable compared to the Adobe CC monthly subscription commitment. Jan built her site and it came out great, but for some reason I had the impression that it was hard and confusing so I made excuses to not use it. Finally, about a month ago I started playing around with it just to see how it worked. It couldn’t have been easier. There are a lot of third party add-ons you can get but my site was finished using a third party theme but nothing else.

It did take me a while to finish the new site but a lot of it was spent preparing content. Once all content is prepared assembling the site itself was a breeze. I fell behind on the Ninja Bunny webcomic but ended up finally creating the YouTube channel I’d been putting off making and along with the motion comic you see here. Man, feels good to be un-stuck!

The Force Awakens

Last night I went to the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Props to Terry Gant of Third Coast Comics who puts together a bunch of movie premiere parties as well as monthly meetups & Karaoke events that are awesome. Usually I’m the kind of person who waits a week or two then catches a matinee when a movie I like comes out, but this time I decided to be “among the first” to see this mega blockbuster.

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I had been to one of Terry’s premieres before (Guardians of the Galaxy) and had a good time but I remember having to get up during the flick to use the washroom because I’d had too many cocktails from our private bartender. I still don’t know how they escaped the prison! This time the plan was get there just before the movie starts, have one drink and nurse it through the movie. Turns out that wasn’t such a good idea because every seat was either taken or being “held” for folks who weren’t there. Luckily I was able to squeeze in between two middle aged ladies, one of whom was already half in the bag.

The movie itself was everything I had hoped it would be. I don’t have the same attachment many Star Wars fans have with the franchise since I was 20 when the first movie came out so even though I really liked it, it didn’t influence my childhood the way it does some of the die-hard fans. JJ Abrams is one of those fans and he has made a movie that is a love letter to the other fans who have been sadly and in some cases angrily disappointed by the films made since Return of the Jedi. Even tho this movie introduces the next generation of Star Wars characters, it has the advantage of having the original cast included thus giving their blessing, if you will to the youngbloods. As every beloved original cast member made their first screen appearance they were greeted by thunderous applause, like we were attending a live performance. I’m not going to give any spoilers because I HATE people who do that, but I can say that if the hardcore fans don’t like this one, just hang up your robe and lay down your light sabre.

 

55?

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Why does everybody speed to wherever they’re going? I’m sure many of these people are heading to jobs that they hate or family they can’t stand but boy are they in a hurry to get there!

The other day I was driving south on I-57. I’m not a leadfoot anymore so I try to stay in the middle lane and go a few miles over the limit but not so fast that I can’t adjust down if a state trooper is spotted. This particular day was a Saturday afternoon and traffic seemed a bit more aggressive than usual so I moved to the right lane so all the NASCAR wannabees could get past me. This woman got right in my ass. Keep in mind that I’m going 70 mph in a 55 zone in the right lane. It was clear she was giving me the kind of tailgate that’s meant to intimidate me into driving faster. Sorry missy, if 70 in the slow lane ain’t fast enough for ya then take your ass around. Which she did and while doing so shot me the nastiest glare one human being could give another. Like I’m the asshole!

Am I?

Popcorn Junkie

Lately I’ve become addicted to Trader Joe’s Chicago Style Popcorn Mix. It’s the closest thing to Garrett’s cheese & caramel popcorn mix and it’s only $3 a bag. Garrett’s Popcorn has been around since 1949 and every since they opened Chicagoans have been standing in line to but their awesome popcorn. Another company has filed a lawsuit against Garrett’s over the use of the term “Chicago Mix” but everybody knows that Garrett’s is the best no matter what they call it.

Part of me feels bad as I’m chowing down on bag after bag of the TJ’s stuff because Janet is allergic to popcorn. So now I try to eat it when she’s not around. Which makes me a secret popcorn eater. God help me.

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Repo Man Turns 30

Back in 1984 I was waiting tables at The Medici in Hyde Park. One day Marsha, a fellow member of the waitstaff came to me and said, I saw this movie the other day and there was a line in it that reminded me of you. Working at the Med seems like a lifetime ago for me for many reasons, but I did get to check out that movie and have been in love with Repo Man ever since.

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Made on a small budget Executive produced by Mike Nesmith formerly of the Monkees and directed by Alex Cox, Repo Man is a Quirky indie film about a punker named Otto who falls into a job as a repo man. Along the way we are introduced to Otto’s criminal friends, his mentor Bud, government agents chasing a car with dead ETs in the trunk and lots more craziness. The soundtrack is a who’s who of mid 80’s punk royalty and was a huge hit even before the movie came out. The movie has attained cult status and is filled with lines that I constantly quote to this day.

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The Criterion Collection has issued a blu-ray edition of Repo Man that came out last year.  I just bought a copy off Ebay and for me it brings back  memories from that era that was the best of times & the worst of times. It comes with a booklet filled with lots of little known facts about the film. The disc contains deleted scenes and commentary as well as interviews with actors and Iggy Pop who did the theme song. Thanks Marsha, for turning me on to this satirical masterpiece.

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Spiritual fun making Kiva Loans

Hi guys!  I have blogged before about various times I’ve made loans on the website kiva.org.  Basically you make a small loan of $25 and people all over the world do the same and then the person who asked for the loan gets it, gets to invest in their small business, then pays it back over time.  You get to see the photo, name, and story of the people asking for loans, and you can search by gender and other factors.  I search for women asking for the loan on their own rather than in a group, and pick people I feel will pay it back, and who seem to have a positive effect on others.  But that’s not all.  There’s an extra idea I have in mind….

I loaned money to Hedaya in Palestine through Kiva.org

I also pick people I’d like to have tea with once or twice, or people with whom I feel I’d like to have a brief conversation.  People I respect and admire and would like to encourage.  I do this because I want to reward positive people, and also I believe that the spirit of those I pick actually know about me and the other lenders on a subconscious level.  I believe that we actually can meet briefly, in our dreams (on the “astral”), with our angels, and actually have tea.  So today I picked Hedaya a Palestinian woman who is 38, married, with two children in school.  She is making improvements to her women’s clothing shop.

Batbold has a wife and 3 kids in Mongolia. His daughter is a university student!

I also picked Batbold who is 53, married with three kids in Mongolia.  Both he and his wife are chefs and he is opening a cafe.  I had a positive sense of him right away, but when I read that his daughter is going to a university that reinforced my sense that he has a good heart.  So here’s to having tea with kind, sincere people, both while awake and in the body, and in our dreams with our angels!

Go Google Yourself

Everyone has done it. How can you resist the urge? The last time I did it the first name that came up was a different Lorenzo Ross’s Facebook profile. He has more friends than me. The next item was alternativecitycomics.com so that’s cool. Then a lot of old blog posts of ours, okay that’s cool too. Then when I look under images, two of the first three photos are mug shots of two different brothers with my name, one in Texas the other in Florida. I have got to stay the hell out’a those states! Fortunately the fourth photo was my old Myspace profile shot. There’s a lot of Myspace stuff of mine out there. Lucky me.

Avengers Assemble!

I love when characters I’ve only read about get translated to the big screen, especially when it’s done right. That is definitely the case with the new Avengers movie. Even if you know nothing about The Avengers or have never read a comic book, there is a very good chance that you will like this movie.

One big reason the film works is not just a great cast but also the choice of director. Joss Whedon is well known for his work on Buffy & Angel, as well as other gems like Firefly and Dollhouse. Whedon followed up his success in television by writing many well received story arcs for comics like Fray, Astonishing X-men and Runaways just to name a few. The man “gets” comics. He’s a lifelong fan and respects the medium. Having the movie created through his vision prevents the suits from ruining a good thing.

I’m thrilled that The Avengers will now be on the radar as much as X-men have been in the past. Growing up I was a bigger fan of The Avengers than the X-men. Awesome 5! is inspired by The Avengers more than any other supergroup. Janet’s not a comic geek like I am but she loved the movie as much as I did. No one is a bigger proponent of indie films, comics and culture than myself but if you’re gonna make a blockbuster this is the way to do it. It’s a must see!

Fiverr? Really?

Okay, it’s time for me to be that guy again. All over Facebook I’m seeing these ads for Fiverr, the site that encourages people to perform services for the paltry sum of five dollars. They’re trying to get me to like their fan page, check them out and maybe jump on the band wagon. Sorry, it ain’t gonna happen.

The upside of Fiverr is if you’re looking for cheap labor this is your dream. This is the next best thing to opening a warehouse in China. What I’m having trouble understanding is what’s the motivation for the people offering the services. Perhaps they are desperate because of being unemployed and are unable to find income elsewhere which is understandable. Or maybe they just don’t value their work very much.

You have people offering everything from 45 minute financial advice videos, doing personalized original artwork, writing short stories based on your hopes & dreams, you name it. I’m sure someone’s probably going to offer to come to your house and clean your toilet.

I’m not trying to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do, that’s up to them. But you should really be careful when it comes to something like this. One of the worst things that could happen is you become successful, you’re swamped with cheap orders and now you’re trapped in a sweatshop of your own making (this happens on Etsy a lot!). A successful artist once told me,” Don’t sell your work so cheap that you are doing yourself a disservice. Once you’re known as the cheap artist that’s what you’ll always be.”